Alternative providers helping to deliver more finance to smaller businesses

More finance is making its way through to the UK’s smaller businesses, coming in particular from the thriving market of new or alternative finance providers.

These are the findings contained within the British Business Bank’s annual reports and accounts for 2017/18.

The UK’s national economic development bank reported a strong year, performing well against its four key objectives.

In terms of increasing the supply of finance to smaller businesses, the total stock of finance provided through its programme rose by 33 per cent to £12.25bn.

In helping to create a more diverse finance market for smaller businesses, the Bank reports that 95.6 per cent of the support offered was delivered through smaller, newer, or alternative finance providers. This is up from 94 per cent in 2015/16.

Where the aim of promoting better information in the market is concerned, 50 per cent of SMEs reported awareness of a range of finance options. The Bank’s Business Finance Guide was accessed online or distributed in hard copy 85,000 times.

And against the final objective of achieving these goals while managing taxpayers’ money efficiently, the report notes an increase to 4.2 per cent adjusted return on capital employed, which exceeds the target set by Government for the fourth year in a row.

The results come at the end of a year of sustained growth for the Government-owned bank which has seen continued delivery of existing programmes as well as the development of a series of new initiatives, including extra provision for scale-up businesses and further enhancement of its regional provision.

Lord Smith of Kelvin, Chair of the British Business Bank said: “We are in a strong position at the end of the 2017/18 financial year, enhancing our infrastructure, our organisation and our delivery to smaller businesses.

“I look forward to working with the dedicated team at the Bank to help even more businesses to maintain and grow their enormous contribution to the UK economy.”

Main highlights for 2017/18:

  • Nearly 75,000 small and medium-sized companies now receive a loan or investment through British Business Bank programmes
  • An additional £678m committed through delivery partners to increase supply of finance to the market
  • The development of a new British Patient Capital programme, providing up to £7.5bn of finance and designed to support high growth potential, innovative UK businesses in accessing the long-term financing they require to scale up
  • In September 2017, the Start Up Loans programme passed a significant milestone, providing its 50,000th loan since its inception in late 2012
  • In November 2017, the Bank’s flagship Enterprise Finance Guarantee programme passed the £3bn provided milestone
  • The Enterprise Capital Funds programme’s investment capacity increased to over £1bn for the first time
  • Launch of the £250m Midlands Engine Investment Fund to support businesses across the region

Keith Morgan, CEO of the British Business Bank said: “Businesses at all stages – whether start-ups, scaleups or well-established firms – need the right sort of finance to realise their potential. We help the market meet those needs more effectively.

“The gearing up of our delivery and capability in the last year means we are ready and able to support more businesses across the UK in the future, whatever opportunities and challenges may lie ahead.”

The British Business Bank Annual Report and Accounts 2017/18 can be viewed at